Not a members’ club

I read with interest President David Brown’s message in the May/June 2018 issue of Engineering Dimensions (p. 6). He has identified the root cause of PEO’s failure to thrive and fulfil its mission over the past decades: the strong and persuasive “members’ club” mentality within an organization that is, by legislation, solely a regulatory body. Since the creation of OSPE in 2000, the continued club mentality at PEO has hampered its ability to regulate effectively and has adversely impacted OSPE’s success. While occasionally talking a good game about serving and protecting the public interest, there are countless examples over the years where it has been clear that member interests have strongly influenced PEO policy and practices.

It is these self-interest actions that have brought the entire self-regulatory model under attack. President Brown is correct about the coming disruption. PEO was very lucky to escape largely unscathed at the Elliot Lake Inquiry, but that should be viewed as a wake-up call. PEO needs to be focused 100 per cent on regulatory activities and do so in a manner that is unquestionably in the public interest—as is required under its governing legislation. The added costs of doing so will be what they will be. However, some savings can be realized from eliminating the non-regulatory and non-public interest activities currently undertaken by PEO.

Consulting Engineers of Ontario, as the trade association of consulting engineering firms in the province, recognizes and supports the need for a strong and focused engineering regulator. Getting there will require strong resolve on the part of PEO leadership. It must turn a deaf ear to member-interest perspectives and recognize that serving and protecting the public interest will sometimes not be popular amongst the grassroots membership.

Bruce G. Matthews, P.Eng., CEO, Consulting Engineers of Ontario, Toronto, ON